Review: Tomorrow, the Killing / Author: Daniel Polansky / Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton / Release Date: October 11th
Daniel Polansky’s exceptional debut novel, The Straight Razor Curve, introduced the ill-fated and manipulative Warden, and the crime-infested, fractured society of Low Town. Tomorrow, the Killing is Polansky’s second novel (although new readers are quickly brought up to speed) and continues the Warden’s story from where the last book left off.
The Warden, our unusual protagonist of the tale, is a broken man who, as a soldier, bore witness to the travesties of war. The novel spends chapters reliving the Warden’s military service and we quickly learn that he served under Roland Montgomery: a true leader and general who inspired complete devotion in his men. After the war, Roland continues in this role and tries to change Low Town into a better place for all concerned.
Unfortunately for Roland not everyone agrees and he’s found sometime later in the street, throat slit. No witnesses, at least any prepared to talk, and the killer(s) are never brought to justice. Just one more death in Low Town. Life moves on. However, Rhaine (Roland’s little sister) isn’t so keen to let the matter slide. Determined to discover the truth she starts to lift rocks and poke sticks into dark corners. Life is cheap in Low Town and a rich kid searching for her brother’s killer to honour a naive sense of justice is like a magnet to the darkness that infects the town.
Warden is summoned to the big house on the hill, for a meeting with Rhaine and Roland’s father. Montgomery senior is an influential figure in his own right, deeply worried about his daughter and wants her returned safe and sound, lest she follow her brother to the grave. Warden as the self-styled protector of Low Town is his best bet and Montgomery sets him hard on Rhaine’s trail.
However Rhaine has other ideas, she has no intention of leaving Low Town without the identity of her brother’s killer and the Warden, short of carrying her out of town, can’t make her leave. Incredibly, Rhaine makes a connection with the Warden, perhaps possessing something of her brother’s influential gift of the gab, so when a short time later she’s found dead, it sets the Warden on a path of wanton destruction and Rhaine’s quest becomes his own.
The Warden knows how to play the psychotic gangs and associations, how to pick apart their fledgling truce and let the blood flow. In Tomorrow, the Killing we see the Warden’s drug-fuelled cruelty and single-mindedness played out to the max. He stands upon a knife’s edge between his twisted sense of justice and the depths of encroaching madness.
This book is an excellent page turner. The Warden makes for a compelling protagonist, capable of turning situations to his advantage, resorting to violence and diplomacy as the need arises. The supporting cast are multi-dimensional, and the world is wonderfully realised, utterly bleak yet remaining darkly compelling.
In the Warden we have a unique character, head and shoulders above the standard affair. Tomorrow, the Killing is an absolute must for fans of fantasy and is definitely one to be recommended.